The other afternoon during one of our recent stretches of beautiful weather, I walked to Green Lake with a frisbee in my hand… and nobody to throw it to. I thought, “Whatever, I’ll just find someone there and see if they want to toss the disc with me.” I’m not usually this forward, but it was so nice out, and I really wanted to throw the frisbee.
I got to the park and saw two groups of people with a disc. I thought, “Great! I’ll join them.” But when I got closer I saw that one of the groups was a couple and I didn’t want to interrupt them if they were on a date or something. And the other group was caught up in a game of some sort, so I got shy about interrupting them, too. I ended up casually curving my walk away from them, as if something on the other side of the park was slowly grabbing my attention.
But I really wanted to throw the frisbee! It was in my hand, just begging to be hucked back and forth across the field. I saw a guy walking away from the basketball courts. To his surprise I approached him and asked if he wanted to throw with me. He shook his head and mumbled something about it being margarita time. I kind of laughed and said, “Okay, that’s cool.”
Eventually I got up the nerve to go back to that group of people who were playing a game. They weren’t playing now, just hanging out talking, so I walked up to them. At this point my confidence was waning so I fibbed and said my frisbee partner ditched me and would they be interested in throwing around. They looked at me and at each other awkwardly before one gal said, “I think we’re gonna leave soon, but sure I’ll throw with you a little.” We exchanged about a dozen throws before it was clear her friends were devising a plan to get their friend away from this creepy lone frisbee guy (me), so I bowed out as gracefully as possible, meandered through the park a little while longer, and then headed home and put my disc away.
At this point you’re probably wondering, “Wow, Aldan, that’s a terrifically sad story about a boy no one would play frisbee with, but what does that have to do with biking around town?” I’m glad you asked! After this experience, I started thinking of all the people who probably want to ride bikes through Seattle to get from A to B, but who are nervous about traffic or don’t know the best routes or are concerned about the hills / weather / clothing / you-name-it. These folks may even already have what they need to get started: a bike, some gear, a helmet, etc., and would readily go out and ride, if only… if only they had a buddy. Someone who could show them the basics and get them over that first hill on the learning curve.
And I thought, what a bummer that must be. To really want to ride, but to be sort of stuck, like me with my frisbee, wishing for a partner or group of friends with whom to share the activity. And at the same time, what an opportunity! If you ride, do you know anyone who casts slightly envious glances at you when you walk into the office / apartment / café with your bike? Maybe you could offer to ride with them to work or the market one day to get them started.
Or maybe you’re the one who’s mentioned in the past how much you’d like to bike, but you haven’t gotten around to it. Would having an experienced buddy be helpful for you? If so, maybe ask one of your biking friends to ride with you, or be like me and approach total strangers: sound off in the comments section below. You may be shy about asking for help and interrupting someone’s good time, but I’ve found that many riders are happy to share their knowledge and demonstrate best practices with newcomers.
Or maybe you’ve already tried these things. Leave a comment to let us know how it went.
Here’s to reaching out to those who want to play, and to the courage it takes to ask for help and start something new.